Two years ago I enrolled in a very high-ranked program in field X. Partway through the program, I developed severe health problems which affected my memory and cognitive function, and which made it difficult to learn the required material. In addition, I also found I was not that interested in the research itself (although the aforementioned memory/cognitive problems were far more damaging to my learning than the lack of interest).
Due to the combination of these two factors, I sought medical leave to deal with the health problems, which was granted in March. Around July/August, the problem was partially alleviated, and I have mostly been feeling better, and have decided to switch to another field of study Y. I talked with my adviser about my situation and explained the health problems, and he asked me if I was still planning on re-entering the program, and I told him that I felt that I might perform better working in field Y; we mutually agreed to terminate the leave, and I am currently applying to a second round of graduate schools.
This is where things get slightly more complicated. The health insurance I had under the medical leave was far better than my ordinary health insurance, and my mother has (since August) been trying to persuade me to extend my leave as long as legally possible, potentially up until Fall 2015 enrollment. According to doctors I talked to at the previous institution, it is not uncommon for students to take up to three years on medical leave, so this is AFAIK legally possible. In the interim time, she wants me to tell my adviser that I am still dealing with medical issues, and am not yet able to decide on re-entering the institute's program in field X, during which I can apply to other schools in field Y and enroll in one of them for Fall 2015. I have not yet told her that I have previously spoken with my adviser and agreed to end the leave.
My question is:
- Under this set of circumstances, was I right in contacting my adviser and terminating leave, instead of extending it up until Fall 2015 enrollment at another institution?
Personally, my gut instinct towards my mother's proposal is that it is effectively financial blackmail, arguably dishonest, and would sour post-leave relations with my adviser. However, I am generally bad at gauging these sort of questions, and seek advice here as to what the correct course of action would have been. My mother has told me that the institute legally has to extend my medical leave as long as I am otherwise in good standing and still expressing desire to eventually re-enroll, and that by doing otherwise, I am potentially burning academic bridges behind me and making it more difficult for me to find a new graduate position. In any case, I hope that this question is sufficiently generalizable that it can help people who find themselves in similar circumstances regarding the handling of academic medical leave.
To clarify, I was not paid a stipend during leave, and the insurance premium was paid for by the institution.